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Weaving a Husain

The tapestries of M.F. Husain displayed at Cinema Ghar reflect the art-craft rendezvous



Varied themes form the subjects of the tapestries

WHEN A numero uno artist sits with a weaver to conceptualise, the result is bound to induce curiosity. And more so if it is M.F. Husain whose artistic impulses are constantly ticking. M.F. Husain's concept was translated into tapestries in silk and tussar by the weavers in Bangalore about 20 years ago. These woven `murals' are now on display at Cinema Ghar.

Husain's penchant for exploring all vistas of artistic expression is well reflected in his oeuvre.

His desire to create in different mediums never ceases and his surprises are many. Tapestries, richly woven in silk and tussar (with a few in zari), have the painterly quality and effect. The themes are similar to his art - range from landscapes, personalities to his reactions to contemporary events and situations.

A weaver's view

The artist's visual imagery was well understood by the weaver. Therefore, the work is one of art where the lines, tones and textures stem essentially from the artist's vision. With the able help of Husain's drawings, the weaver has almost traced it on the loom.


The textural variations and the addition of zari embellish the works further. For the weaver, the task must have been stupendous to work on the warp and weft to recreate the drawing but he has executed it to perfection.

The subjects chosen for the fairly large tapestries are interesting. Murli Manohar has Krishna playing the flute in the top half, while the lower half depicts Yashoda against a backdrop of trees. Similarly, a landscape (itself in the shape of a tree) can be viewed in three layers - where trees, houses and abstract forms make up the composition. Husain's favourite - the horse is very much present - as a separate work - the Chinese horse (where the magnificent animal has been woven superbly - with the lines of the artist standing out) and in Artist and his model (which shows the gentle and protective association between the artist and the animal).

Husain's portrayal of Gandhiji is in his inimitable style. The leader standing in his loin cloth holding a stick with the upper garment flowing on to the stick with just a symbol of the wheel alluding to the charkha.

On war and peace

The largest tapestry (560 x 127 cms) exhibited War and Peace shows Husain's angst and concern. The elements of war like elephant, tiger, arrows on the left side move to the elements of peace on the right - a saint-like figure - perhaps the Buddha. Tapestry as a work of art has been in existence since long and Husain's tapestries show the contemporary collaboration between an artist and a weaver, which has resulted in timeless works. These can be viewed at Cinema Ghar till the end of the month.

RADHIKA RAJAMANI

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